Any hopes Hillary Clinton may have had for the end of negative campaign investigations after conceding her run for president have gone unfulfilled, and while Trump has decided against the hiring of a special prosecutor against her, German taxpayers aren’t too happy finding out that a sizable donation to Clinton’s charity was made using their tax dollars just weeks before the election.
$4.8 million donation
The Clinton Foundation was a frequent topic of criticism for Clinton, going back to her time as Secretary of State, as foreign donations were often seen as a conflict of interest. This concern only escalated as she became the democratic nominee for president, and despite her own claims that these donations were collected with no attachment to the campaign, news of a $4.8 million donation made by the German Environment Ministry around the same time Clinton voiced her support of Chancellor Angela Merkel as a leader she admired, has led to some serious questions.
As news of the donation, which has newly been featured on the Clinton Foundation’s list of donors, went public, the ministry was quick to issue a statement denying the accusations that the money served any political purpose. In fact, the group even denied donating to the foundation at all.
“We haven’t made any donations”
“We haven’t made any donations and certainly not to the Clinton Foundation,” ministry spokesman Stephan Haufe said on Monday. “The whole thing is part of the International Climate Initiative, which is carrying out various projects worldwide to help other countries protect the environment. And the amounts involved are no secret. They’re freely available (on the initiative’s home page). The Clinton Foundation is one of our partners here.”
The money’s classification as not being a donation to the Clinton Foundation in any way, but instead money given to the Clinton Foundation’s Climate Initiative, seems to only add to the suspicions.
Haufe went on to offer further distance the German governmental agency from the Clinton presidential campaign by claiming the funds were decided on well before the US elections. “We’re talking here about projects with a duration of 2014 to 2018. They were approved well before the election, several years before it in fact.”
So what then was the money approved for? The Environment Ministry has stated that the funding is earmarked for the recovery of forests and land in eastern Africa as the project “was judged to be a good supplement for the German government’s developmental work”.
These reassurances made to German taxpayers still aren’t entirely concrete, but in an interview with DW, Christoph Bals, the political director of the Bonn-based NGO Germanwatch, hoped to offer more clarity against such concerns.
“They’re not just blown out of proportion – they’re false”
“They’re not just blown out of proportion – they’re false,” Bals told DW in response to the questionable connection to Clinton’s campaign. “If false statements like the idea of a donation being made to the Clinton Foundation, although the ministry explicitly denied it, are put forward, I think it shows that the accusations shouldn’t be taken seriously.”
Hartmut Bäumer, chairman for the German branch of Transparency International, an anti-corruption organization, backed up Bals’ claims to DW by issuing his own reassurance that the money played no influential political role and that the accusations are purely guided by a poorly defined listing by the Clinton Foundation.
“It’s misleading when a payment by a government ministry earmarked for a specific purpose, the financing of a climate protection project, appears in what seems to be a list of donors to a foundation,” Bäumer told DW. “In the first instance, that’s a problem at the foundation. But in future the Environment Ministry should ensure that payments are correctly listed before releasing funds.”